We're funding NGOs providing empowering, long-term aid to those who have experienced violence and persecution.
In the 2022-23 academic year, we are thrilled to be able to provide grants to 8 different NGOs, working to make high-quality, trauma-informed legal aid available to refugees and asylum seekers in Greece. Scroll down to read more about each of our partners.
CN: t*ortue, s*xual violence, su*cide
Who we're supporting
Legal aid in the Greek context
Though today Greece receives far fewer numbers of new arrivals of those seeking asylum than in 2015, when the 'refugee crisis' in Europe first began, conditions and access to basic legal and human rights is, if possible, even more difficult to come by.
Asylum seekers arriving on Greek islands such as Lesvos are placed in mandatory quarantine for 2 weeks, but during this time are often given little to no information about the legal process they will be embarking on. Screenings for legally recognised vulnerabilities, such as having experienced torture, sexual or gender based violence, as well as for physical and mental health conditions, are often incomplete or not performed during this time. Upon release, asylum seekers frequently have just a matter of days before their pivotal asylum interview, leaving almost no time to collect with vital documents or meet with a lawyer. Moreover, conditions in camps across Greece are incredibly poor. Accommodation frequently consists of little more than open air tents, wholly unsuitable to the freezing winds which are common in Greek winters, and permission to leave camps is not guaranteed. EU funding has also recently been announced for new 'closed' camps, which have raised huge concern among human rights groups.
Many asylum seekers who arrive via small boats to the islands are transferred to mainland Greece, whilst others reach the mainland via land border crossings, and legal aid NGOs are overburdened by the level of need. There are 12 refugee camps in Northern Greece, where people are forced to live in similarly poor conditions, whilst other refugees and asylum seekers have no choice but to sleep rough in parks or urban areas. It is not surprising that, through a combination of the violence and persecution someone has been forced to flee, inhumane and hostile reception conditions and gruelling legal limbo, mental health is generally incredibly poor, with PTSD, anxiety, depression and acute suicidality being commonplace.
Asylum processes are incredibly complex legal processes, almost impossible to navigate without expert guidance, and exist within a system which is set up to actively disempower those seeking asylum. Legal aid NGOs inform people of their rights, provide representation, assist with family reunification in cases where loved ones are separated across borders, and support people to access medical and psychological services. We believe legal aid to be one of the most empowering, durable forms of aid we can offer.
Right: Mavrovouni camp, Lesvos, 2020
Velos Youth was founded in 2017 to support children and young people on the move to re-start and rebuild their lives. Their work centres around building a safe space in central Athens for young people aged 16-23 years old, which offers a wide range of services, as well as support to access existing state and non-government services. They work with young people to help them reimagine their futures, and take the next steps towards achieving their goals and aspirations.
Their funding will help the recruitment of a lawyer who will improve knowledge, create informative material, and also provide direct support to 60 children and young people over the course of the year.
Mobile Info Team
Mobile Info Team’s goal is to support individuals caught in an inefficient and complex European asylum system. They aim to improve the situation of refugees by providing them with vital information, clarification and assistance in a language they can fully understand, throughout each step of their asylum procedure. They fight for their rights and dignity in refuge, and try to find solutions to the issues they face along the way. They also aspire to fill the existing huge information gap between refugees and the complex European asylum system.
MIT provides both general and tailored information to keep people on the move up-to-date, as well as legal advice in complex cases. They also advocate for the rights of those on the move and engage with key actors to ensure the protection and promotion of asylum seekers and refugees on the European political agenda.
Defence for Children International - Greece
DCI was established in 2016 with a clear mandate to develop its own programmes in order to offer high-quality protection services to people on the move. Since its inception, they are one of the few human rights organizations in Greece acting as a watchdog for the implementation of children's rights and working directly at the UN level in this regard.
DCI defends children's rights in numerous ways, including: investigating & documenting violations of people’s rights, providing direct protection services with a particular focus on legal and administrative proceedings, and advocating for structural change.
A mobile Children’s Rights Helpdesk constitutes the main pillar, which the funding will help support and develop to provide high-quality trauma-informed protection services to our beneficiaries. DCI is also equipped with professionals holding high expertise in the field of migration and child protection and since 2016 it has offered extensive case management to over 2500 cases.
Irida Women's Centre
Irida Women’s Center is a Greek nonprofit organization established in 2016 and operating in Thessaloniki, Northern Greece. Their driving force is our vision for a world in which no woman is left behind.
The organization empowers the most socially and economically vulnerable women to become active
members of society and fulfill their goals and aspirations. In their unique women-led safe community
centre, women receive critical support to address challenges, find solutions, and achieve positive and
lasting change. They help women find a space to share and learn, make informed and responsible decisions
for their lives and pursue opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Their funding will help cover the salary of a Legal Expert & Legal Expenses.
Fenix Humanitarian Legal Aid
Fenix was founded in November of 2018 by 5 young professionals who believed that there was a need for a different, more holistic approach to legal aid in humanitarian contexts. Two years later Fenix celebrates having over 50 staff members and volunteers who provide what we have coined 'Holistic Legal Aid'.
This is a service that addresses the legal, protection, psychological, social and emotional needs of our clients through legal, protection and mental health services to the most vulnerable amongst the vulnerable: unaccompanied minors, survivors of torture and sexual gender-based violence, and people with medical issues or disabilities.
Fenix strongly believes in the power of our work: in information, safety and empowerment as compelling tools for healing trauma and fostering integration, and in community engagement, advocacy and strategic litigation as means for structural change."
SolidariTee's funding will contribute to staff costs for our Mental Health Team and Greek Lawyers.
Congolese Community of Greece
Officially recognised in 2008 as an Association, the Congolese Community of Greece is an association created by Congolese living in Greece to serve as a bridge for the social and political inclusion of Congolese people into Greek society. Their core values are strengthening community, human rights,
integrity, and upholding human dignity.
The focus of their work is to assist migrants and refugees in a spirit of solidarity for their integration and inclusion into Greek society. They also work closely with other community groups, take part in several governmental and non-governmental structures, and provide an online legal programme with a qualified lawyer enabling clients to speak to communication assistants or translators in their own language. This provides information to refugees and asylum seekers on how to apply for asylum and prepare for their interviews.
Their funding will help provide individual and group support sessions, furthering the organisation's policies, and build on their existing work within the community.
Building on its background as a pioneering legal aid provider in Egypt, AMERA International now works globally to strengthen the provision of quality legal assistance for refugees. The organisation's focus is enhancing knowledge, capacity, and practices among legal aid providers, lawyers and paralegals, refugee-led organisations, and NGOs working with refugees. They have created an online Rights in Exile platform which helps connectivity amongst different groups and helps with access to mental health needs.
The funding will support the implementation of a project which will provide training and capacity-building opportunities for legal representatives to develop skills, knowledge, experience and connections that enhance their ability to represent refugees.